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This week, we praise our Mother in earth, wind, and fire. We praise all the blazers getting blazed. We praise the first Pastafarian couple to be legally married by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. And we praise the reigning monarch on her ninetieth b-day. Long live her, our Queen, because our Prince we will dearly miss. 

We’re falling all over a 2012 piece in Harper’s by Hilton Als—a human we love and respect for being the boss of all things writerly at the junction of race, gender, and sexuality (but also for a 1997 Missy Elliott profile in The New Yorker, which everyone should read too). This here is a paean to the one, the only, Prince Rogers Nelson. 

With his back to me still, he drifted over to the food table, as if in search of something he wasn’t sure he had asked for. And not finding it there, had no choice but to sit down. He positioned himself on one of the leather chairs to the left of the sofa, his posture a caricature of weariness. I was immediately transfixed by his slight frame; his straightened hair, cut relatively short, but curled, added an additional one or two inches. (Prince stands 5'4″ tall.) There was more silence, and as it unfolded, I took in his face, which had the exact shape, and large eyes, of a beautiful turtle.

We are the 1%
Algorithmic decision-making in our apps and social networks is all too easily dismissed as a sort of purer, more idealized, more data-driven way of operating. But how do the biases of those who design them come to weigh on our existences? And what do we lose when code makes our decisions for us in the first place? Chava Gourarie at the Columbia Journalism Review grapples with these questions, kicking around ways that journalists can report on the deeply complex and increasingly vital algorithm beat.

With every purge—fundamentalist or otherwise—comes the tragic story of all the lost, burned, and pillaged cultural treasures. But here, in Timbuktu, is a rare but rollicking high-stakes success story of one brave librarian and a small army of volunteers rescuing treasures under cover of Mali's now hellish nights. 

Speaking of Malian cultural treasures, the incomparable photographer Malick Sidibé died last week. Teju Cole's appreciation of him here is a short, exquisite joy, and a fine introduction to a man and a place both now, for different reasons, gone.

Hit the backspace! IBM’s Magnetic Tape Selectric Typewriter, introduced in 1964, boasted a memory feature that allowed you to edit your text before it was committed to the page, spelling a new day for how writers planned their sentences and structured their thoughts. This review of Matthew G. Kirschenbaum’s​ Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing​ has us word nerds all hot and bothered. 

Writer Michael W. Clune was tiring of the same gimmicky VR films and games, claiming to engender empathy or help us see the world differently by immersing us in someone else's perspective. Then he tried a VR project that was a simple rendering of an office and basically had a dissociative panic attack. Maybe VR's real power will be to confront you with what it means to be yourself?

Candace Owens turned to Kickstarter to fund Social Autopsy, a site that would help link nasty online comments to their evil authors. Zoe Quinn and Randi Lee Harper—both perennial targets for gamergate trolls—reached out to caution her, convinced the solution would only paint a target on Owens’s back. But what played out suggests that even purported feminists can be tricked into propagating gamergate vitriol

The Google Books case took so long that, TBH, we kinda forgot about it. But eleven years in, Google gets its win. Both sides had good arguments, and after that many years, we can only say what we knew at the start: copyright law is an outdated mess, and that’s not changing any time soon.

Pulitzers remind us that few professionals are more self-congratulatory than journalists. Has our prize-whoring enthusiasm bred an industry that produces for juries rather than for readers? Has everyone forgotten that Pulitzer was the Rupert Murdoch of his time?

Kiss you for reading.



Ta ta.

The Overprint is a weekly newsletter from Make Ready + The Alpine Review.
Illustration by Chris Lange.
 
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